Saturday, August 2, 2014

Digiscoping w/ the Nikon 1 V3 - 02 Aug 2014

I exchanged some messages this morning w/ Mike McDowell, aka The Digiscoper, concerning the Nikon 1 V3. The question was raised as to how it compared to the V1, which we've both used in the field. Since I'd been using the Sony DSC-RX100 III for the past month or so I was trying to remember some of the things about the V3 "I didn't like".

I remembered not liking the seemingly 'over saturated' images coming from the camera when I digiscoped using the Zeiss 85T*Fl and 20-75X Zoom Eyepiece. Images w/ the 20-75X Zoom eyepiece also had a tendency to show serious CA and softness at the edges that proved bothersome, as well. I remembered getting better images using the 40X eyepiece, but that required using my homemade adapter and the 10-30mm lens from the V1.  So this prompted me to steal back the V3 from Robin and test it on the Digidapter™ and 40X W eyepiece now that I have an adapter that fits properly.

I've posted some blogs comparing the noise and magnification ranges of the Nikon 1 and Sony RX-100 III.  I've also posted some images taken w/ the V3 using the Zeiss 20-75X Zoom Eyepiece:

Shorebirds w/ 20-75X Zoom eyepiece and 40X

Low ISO w/ 20-75X Zoom

High ISO w/ 20-75X Zoom

The V3 and 10-30 PZ lens mounts nicely on the Digidapter™ stage platform, and aligning was a snap! One advantage that the V3 has is that the 10-30mm lens does not move in and out like the 8-27mm lens does on the RX100 III, so I mounted the camera so that the V3 at 30mm was flush w/ the 40X eyepiece. Zooming out to 10 mm maintains a sharp focal plane through the entire range and requires no repositioning of the Digidapter™to prevent lens crashing.

I took the scope, Digidapter™ and V3 out into the yard to take some test images.

One advantage that the V3 has over the RX100 III (for digiscoping on the Zeiss Diascope) is that autofocus is significantly faster and more accurate! The focus-assist capability w/ the RX100 III is nice, but without focus-peaking the autofocus does not provide sharp images. Focus-peaking reveals that the autofocus is off, and requires that the camera lens needs rotating to bring the bird in focus.

A female Northern Cardinal has been bouncing around the yard feeding a new fledgling so I was able to track her and grab images even in the low light of the overcast, slightly stormy morning. The V3 locks on almost instantaneously and confidence is much higher that the bird is properly in focus.

Because both the V1 and RX100 III use the same 1" sensor the noise properties of the two cameras are comparable. Here is an image taken at ISO 800 blown up to 100% to show the noise properties of an image taken at 1/50 sec.  Addition of NR using Noiseware (50%) cleans up the image nicely.

Regarding 'color' and 'oversaturation' I had wondered if the V3 was slow to maintain proper white balance during the 20fps Continuous shooting mode that I was using.  So I tested the V3 on this coreopsis in the garden using 'Single', 'Continuous', 'Continuous 10fps', and 'Continuous 20fps'. After uploading and reviewing all images they were identical! When I checked the camera I noticed I had the camera set to Adobe RGB so I changed it to sRGB and chose the color pallet for "Landscape".  The colors produced very pleasing images during the morning shoot and I found that I did not need to adjust at all (I've been having to adjust color balance on all of my RX100 III images to date).

One thing I found out while shooting Continuous 10fps and 20fps is that the minimum shutter speed the camera will select in Aperture-Priority is 1/60 sec. So, when I first tested the camera this morning I found that all of my images were underexposed and dark.  When I switch the camera to "Continuous" then I was getting exposures of 1/20 to 1/30 sec and proper exposures.  So, if you decide to use 10fps or 20fps make sure that there is sufficient light to get at least 1/60 sec at your ISO setting and w/ the lens wide open!

After following mama Cardinal around the yard I spotted one of the recently-fledged chicks in the Redbud tree about 25' away.  Though severely backlit the V3 handled highlights very nicely. Notice how little fringing is present at the edges of the leaves and the around the chick.  Happy.

After playing w/ the Nikon 1 V3 a bit and making the proper corrections (40X eyepiece, color scheme, Digidapter™) I've found that this camera is once-again a joy to use.  The EVF is bright and Autofocus is accurate so I don't need the Hoodman Loupe setup like I have on the RX100 III. File transfer is also easier since Nikon Transfer and Nikon View allows me to preview and delete photos much quicker and easier than w/ the Sony software.

So. Tomorrow. I'll be taking the Nikon 1 V3 out to the shorebird flats and leaving the Sony RX100 III  on the charger at home.  I may have to buy Robin another camera to replace this one that is now back in my camera bag...

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